Updated: Aug 18, 2022
When it comes to choosing the right carpet, there are many factors to consider. The type of yarn, weight, density, and colour to name just a few. However, an initial stumbling block for many, is choosing the correct carpet pile to suit the needs of the home and family.
The carpet pile is the surface layer of a carpet where the yarn protrudes from the carpet backing, leaving a visible textured surface. This is the part of the carpet that you see and feel underfoot daily, so it is important that you get the correct look and feel.
Although there are numerous pile options to consider, the two most common types are cut and loop piles; each of which can be broken down into more specific subcategories. The pile type you choose will have a significant impact on the aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and sensation of the carpet.
During the manufacturing process of a carpet, looms are used to weave yarns back and forth through the carpet backing to create a series of interlocking loops. The pile type is then determined when a carpet is either left in its loop form or sheared to leave a cut pile.
Loop Pile Carpets
As the name suggests, loop pile carpets are not sheared and are left as full loops that penetrate back and forth through the carpet backing. Due to the structure of the weave, loop carpets can be durable and hardwearing and are typically made from wool.
A tightly looped carpet can offer a great solution for an aesthetically pleasing, yet long-lasting carpet in a high footfall area such as stairs or a landing. Loop carpets are very popular at the moment as they add texture to a decorating scheme and can suite both contemporary and traditional settings.
Due to the nature of a loop, it is possible to snag or pull loose a yarn if a sharp or heavy object is dragged across the pile, this could also be true if a pet were to pick at a loop or catch a claw when walking across the carpet. This can affect the appearance of the carpet and cause it to look disorderly over time. It is important to follow manufacturer advice when vacuuming looped carpets, many advise using the suction only setting (i.e. switch the beater bar off) so as to avoid excessive friction on the yarn leading to pilling or fuzzing which can be unsightly.
Cut Pile Carpets
Unlike loop pile carpets, cut pile carpets are sheared to clip each loop, leaving an exposed pile, running directly upright from the carpet backing, with a twist introduced into the pile to make it more resilient to wear and helping the pile to bounce back once compressed. Cut pile is the most common carpet type and includes twist, velvet and Saxony styles.
Synthetic cut pile carpets are commonly made from man-made fibres such as polypropylene, polyester, or nylon. Natural fibres may include wool and even bamboo. A classic mix is the 80:20 - 80% wool and 20% man-made fibre, this gives a perfect combination of softness and durability.
Cut piles can be very tough and hard wearing or softer and more luxurious. Generally the shorter and denser the pile, the better the carpet will resist flattening through wear and with the correct care, the longer it will retain it's perfect appearance.